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International Teachers of Singing Organization Selects MC Music Faculty for Prestigious Internship

Sarah Pigott, professor of voice and opera stage director for Lyric Stage at MC, has been selected to participate in NATS' prestigious internship program.
Sarah Pigott, professor of voice and opera stage director for Lyric Stage at MC, has been selected to participate in NATS' prestigious internship program.

The world’s largest professional association of teachers of singing has selected an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Music at Mississippi College to participate in its exclusive internship program.

Sarah Pigott, professor of voice and opera stage director for Lyric Stage at MC, is one of only 12 early career voice teachers from across the nation selected for the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) 2023 Intern Program.

The interns will be paired with established expert teachers and collaborative pianists for an intense 10-day training program that fosters a dynamic exchange of ideas and techniques. The interns and master teachers will convene from May 30-June 9 on the campus of West Chester University in Pennsylvania.

Nicholas Perna, associate professor of voice pedagogy at MC and NATS vice president for outreach, said the internship is the most prestigious program the organization offers its members.

“The competition to be accepted into this program is fierce, as many of this year’s interns are already established tenure-track professionals at institutions such as Oberlin Conservatory or Texas Tech University,” Perna said. “The fact that Ms. Pigott was selected in only her first year applying to the program is a true and noteworthy honor.

“It is a wonderful recognition of her work and is evidence of the high-level teaching that goes on in the Voice Area of the MC Music Department.”

Pigott said being selected as a NATS intern is ”truly an honor.”

“Some of the voice teachers and pedagogues that I most admire were once NATS interns, and I can only hope to accomplish half as much as them,” she said. “I am excited to meet other voice teachers looking to gain further knowledge and experience and continue to further the field.”

A native of Germantown, Tennessee, Pigott obtained her Bachelor of Music in 2017 and her Master of Music in Voice Performance and Pedagogy in 2019 at MC. She has given three national conference presentations and has performed in numerous stage productions, including “Sound of Music” at New Stage Theater in Jackson and “Pirates of Penzance” for Opera Mississippi.

Pigott collaborates with Perna on the weekly NATS podcast, “VocalFri.” Her areas of research include laryngeal manipulation and acoustics and twang.

During her internship, Pigott will work with students from the host school in front of “master teachers” – established, veteran voice instructors – who will provide feedback and suggestions. She will work with collaborative pianists and observe other NATS interns working with students.

“I’m looking forward to improving my teaching, discovering new ideas, and connecting with other like-minded professionals,” she said.

NATS structured the program environment to improve the teaching skills of the interns and promote the interdependent relationships necessary to provide the best instruction for students. Pigott said participating in the program will ultimately benefit her students at Mississippi College.

“Positions such as this help to raise awareness of the national level of the quality of programs offered at MC,” Pigott said. “As a teacher, I always strive to meet my students where they are and acknowledge their individuality while pushing them to expand outside of their comfort zone and be lifelong learners. I try to hold myself to this same standard, and this internship is another opportunity to challenge myself and push myself.

“I know I will come back from this internship with new ideas and perspectives and be ready to be an even more effective instructor.”

Carole Blankenship, director of the 2023 NATS Intern Program and NATS’s immediate past president, said participants come away from the internship with substantially improved studio teaching skills.

“We are thrilled to invite this remarkable group of early career voice teachers and collaborative artists to attend the program,” Blankenship said. “The group includes active performers and scholars teaching in independent studios, college, and/or high school programs.

“They are already contributing to the voice profession in many ways through their teaching and research, including serving NATS in various ways. We look forward to bringing this cohort of teachers/scholars into the 32-year legacy of the NATS Intern Program.”

NATS interns have maintained close professional bonds. Since its inception in 1991, the NATS Intern Program Alumni Network has grown to more than 300 voice-teaching professionals.

Pigott credits the superlative training she received at MC and the exceptional support of her faculty colleagues for helping position her to obtain the internship.

“Dr. Perna was my advisor during my master’s at MC and is now my colleague, mentor, and friend. He has been a huge support and constantly pushes me to aim higher,” she said. “All of my professors in the Music Department throughout my undergraduate and master’s helped set me up for success and were always incredibly encouraging. Many of them are now also supportive colleagues.”

Founded in 1944, NATS’ mission is to advance excellence in singing through teaching, performance, scholarship, and research. The organization boasts more than 7,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and more than 35 other countries.